21 June 2012

In which I discuss poetry group again.

I had poetry group again last night. By the end of the night there were twelve of us, and we'd had a good variety of poems read, including Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, X. J. Kennedy, Christina Rossetti, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, and Sherman Alexie. A few people read original poems, as well.

Last night's meeting was really a lot of fun. There was great poetry read (if you get the chance, read "Afraid So" by Jeanne Marie Beaumont and "The Facebook Sonnet" by Sherman Alexie), great conversation, and an impromptu reunion.

I'll explain. One of our regular members, Carole, was there. Another regular member, Andy, was also there, and invited his sister to visit. (She read two poems by Christina Rossetti and nearly made me cry. She is an excellent reader.) Through conversation, it was discovered that Carole was Andy's sister's fifth grade teacher! Of course, this was after Danny realized that three of us (including myself) were wearing the same watch, so Chris decided that he was going to go buy a lottery ticket.

See what fun can come from poetry?

Of course, aside from the reunions and sometimes silliness, there is still wonderful conversation about poetry. Last night's meeting began with "Iron" by Carl Sandburg, then "Grass" by the same poet, which launched a discussion about poetry that glorifies war, and how society has changed to glorify war in very, very different ways. We discussed writing poetry from the heart, an upcoming event celebrating Victorian women's literature, and ended with two light-hearted poems, one of which was Alexie's "Facebook Sonnet."

I have discovered that every time I go to poetry group, there are at least two poets discussed or read that I'm not familiar with. I may know the names but haven't read them, or they may be completely new to me. (And with such a long, long literary history of poetry in the Western world alone, there are sure to be more!) When I come home, I always find myself reading up on a new poet. I think that's one of the beauties of this group. After I graduated college, my poetry reading and studying sort of fell away. I am primarily a prosist, so I didn't make the time for poetry. Now that I'm in this group, not only have I made time to read and study poetry, but I've made time to write poetry again. And I think my prose is benefiting.

The imagery that poetry uses can be applied to prose (see "Blood-burning Moon" by Jean Toomer). And because poetry is generally condensed, applying that way of thinking to prose helps keep me from rambling for pages and pages to describe a single tree.

And, as if all this wasn't enough, I really love going to poetry group and connecting with local people who read, write, and appreciate poetry. Since the end of October 2011 this town has been my home, and where I intend for Puck and Tink to have roots. So I'm glad to be able to make the town more of a home by getting involved in the community. I never would have thought my town would have a poetry group--I was pleasantly surprised. I'm eager to see what else exists, and what else may develop as I settle here.

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